Dayton Flyers to play Friday in first round of NCAA volleyball tournament

Dayton Flyers to play Friday in first round of NCAA volleyball tournament

Hawaii womens volleyball makes NCAA tournament

The Rainbow Wahine (18-8) will make their 26th consecutive NCAA volleyball tournament appearance on Thursday, playing Baylor in the subregional hosted by 15th-seeded Oregon in Eugene.

“I’m just happy we made it,” Hawaii coach Robyn Ah Mow-Santos said. “I’m happy we can continue our season.

“I don’t care about the draw. As long as we made it … that’s all I care about.”

The third-ranked Gophers (25-3, 19-1 Big Ten) were named the overall No. 2 seed and will host the first and second rounds this weekend, opening the tournament Friday against Bryant at Maturi Pavilion. South Carolina will play Colorado in the other first-round matchup at the Pavilion. The winners will play a second-round match Saturday, with the victor moving on to the Sweet 16.

Video: Volleyball Selection Show Reaction

Hawaii hosted Oregon twice in September, falling to the Ducks 3-0 and 3-2. Oregon (20-10) opens the tournament against New Mexico State (24-7), the Wahine’s former rival in the Western Athletic Conference. Thursday’s winners will face each other on Friday.

In the most recent NCAA Ratings Percentage Index rankings, the Gophers were No. 2, trailing only top-ranked Stanford. That put them in strong position to earn a top-four seed in the tournament, despite last Friday’s five-set loss at Penn State. The defeat ended a 19-match win streak and was the first for the Gophers since they fell 3-1 to Stanford on Sept. 9.

Hawaii has missed the postseason just once, in 1992 when the Wahine went 15-12. The last time the Wahine played at Oregon was in 1984, losing to the Ducks 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Before the volleyball season began, the Gophers assembled a list of grand goals: a Big Ten championship, a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament, a berth in the Final Four at Target Center. With the league title already crossed off the to-do list, the Gophers got the seeding they wished for Sunday, when the 64-team tournament field was announced.

We thought we were deserving of the fourth seed based on some of the criteria that goes on but apparently they didnt see that and thats what happens when youre a coach, sometimes you dont get what you want and what you see fit in your program, Texas coach Jerritt Elliott said. 

This season, the Gophers are 14-0 at Maturi Pavilion, earning a perfect regular-season record on their home court for the third time in the past four years. They are 59-2 at home since the start of the 2015 season. The Gophers opened the season at Target Center with victories over Florida State and North Carolina.

Not surprisingly, Pac-12-champion Stanford is the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Division I womens volleyball tournament.

Rainbow Wahine selected as at-large, will play in 26th consecutive NCAA Tournament

“We are excited for the tournament. This is what we’ve been working towards all season, Stanford coach Kevin Hambly said. We have prepared ourselves well with our non-conference schedule and the challenges we faced in the Pac-12. 

Stanford (28-1, 20-0 Pac-12) was a lock as the No. 1 overall seed, especially after a loss by both BYU and Minnesota on Week 14. The Cardinal went 20-0 en route to the Pac-12 title, in a league which got eight teams into the field. Stanford, which filled the No. 2 position in the national polls behind BYU for much of the season, brings a 26-match win streak into NCAAs.

Big Ten-winner Minnesota is the second-seed, and Illinois, second in the Big Ten, got the No. 3 seed.

I think it went well, said NCAA selection-committee chair Carrie Coll, the senior woman administrator at Fresno State. Its a grueling process. 

You have moments where you feel good about things and moments where you have incredible heartburn about the way its playing out.

The top four seeds will host through the regional rounds as long as they continue to win. And in the case of No. 2 Minnesota, which is playing host to the national finals in Minneapolis, potentially all the way to the title match.

BYU, which beat Stanford early and was the last undefeated team left, lost a key cog when outside hitter McKenna Miller went down with a season-ending injury. But the committee gave the Cougars the benefit of the doubt.

Despite BYU’s loss and the loss of junior outside hitter McKenna Miller to an ACL injury on Week 13, the West Coast Conference champion Cougars (27-1, 17-1 West Coast Conference) were awarded the fourth overall seed.

Were excited to head into the tournament as the No. 4 seed, BYU coach Heather Olmstead said. Were looking forward to another opportunity to play in the Smith Fieldhouse in front of our awesome fans.

The top four seeds, of course, get to play the third and fourth rounds at home if they win the first two.

First serve between the Lady 'Bows and Bears will be at 2:30pm HST. No word on which television network or streaming service will provide the broadcast of the match.

As I said on the show, Kansas and Kansas State were two of the teams we were considering for the last spots, Coll said. Their team sheets were a struggle for us to get them in.

The West Coast Conference got five, including BYU — which plays host to Stony Brook — Pepperdine and Saint Marys, and the last two teams placed in the bracket, Loyola Marymount and San Diego.

“We are extremely excited to continue competing together,” LMU coach Aaron Mansfield said. “We know how competitive every team is in the region and are excited to see how we match up.”

LMU was a surprise to many. But when it came down to it, the Lions made the cut. You go through the same process there that you do at the top, Coll said. Side-by-side analysis of each selection criteria. The win percentage, the RPI, common opponents, head-to-head (LMU not only beat BYU last week, but beat Kansas early).

“Your gut sometimes makes you feel like, Wow, is that the right team? And we laid out the team sheets for all those teams we were considering, they had that significant late-season win, they had four top-50 wins, they beat Kansas. Thats how it shook out.

The Utes are led by sophomore Dani Drews, who broke school records for kills in each of the last two matches (based on the number of sets). The former Dani Barton is the sister of Ute football players Cody and Jackson Barton, who will be playing against Washington in Fridays Pac-12 championship game at Santa Clara, Calif.

For that matter, the last four out were the Big 12s Kansas and Kansas State, Maryland of the Big Ten and Princeton of the Ivy League.

Star outside hitter McKenna Miller sustained a season-ending ACL injury during a 3-0 win over Santa Clara on Nov. 8. The Cougars defeated San Francisco, Saint Marys and Pacific in her absence, but clearly were not as powerful and struggled offensively in the 3-0 loss to LMU.

You go through getting those last few in and whoever that 16th seed is and the difference between four and five, well, you sweat those. 

The Utes outlasted Denver in five sets in August at the Huntsman Center, winning the fifth set 16-14. The Pioneers went unbeaten for nearly three months, before losing to South Dakota in five sets in the final match of the Summit League tournament in Denver.

But we stayed true to the process and maintained the selection criteria and ultimately kept the presence of mind that we want to present the best experience for the student-athletes who have done so much work this season. We want their experience to be the best it can be.

“I think its just about maximizing what were doing here, just making sure that we are taking care of business,” Tamas told Illini Inquirers Gavin Good. “It’d be great to be in the Final Four, national champions, but were just taking it as, Heres whats in front of us now. I know I say that a lot, but it is true and is kind of how weve been handling everything these both last year and this year. We just kind of keep that singular focus, which puts us in the best position to do well at the end of the year”

For some, that means some long-distance travel, like SWAC-champion Alabama State going to Palo Alto, Calf., to play Stanford, Duke playing LMU at Stanford, or Southern Conference-winner Samford, another Alabama team, headed to Los Angeles where it will play USC.

Illinois beat No. 12 Purdue on Saturday for senior night, the Illinis 10th win over a top-25 opponent. The Illinis three losses this season — which happened during a four-game stretch in late September-early October — came to teams at the time ranked in the top-10: Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota. The Golden Gophers join Illinois as the other Big Ten team to earn a No. 1 seed, along with BYU and Stanford, the latter of which is coached by former Illini coach Kevin Hambly. Stanford received the No. 1 overall seed.

“We’re excited to be going back to the tournament, Cal Poly coach Sam Crosson said. I know the girls are excited and ready. 

VolleyballMag.com co-publisher and editor Lee Feinswog certainly thinks the Illini deserve their No. 4 rating in the RPI as well as the AVCA Coaches Poll. Feinswog, who was at Huff for Illinois’ four-set loss to then-No. 6 Wisconsin, thinks Illinois has the talent and mettle to compete for a national title.

We’ll spend this week preparing and getting them ready to play and hope to have a large amount of Cal Poly fans make the trip down to USC.

Illinois enters the NCAA Tournament on a 13-match winning streak and is currently ranked No. 4 in the AVCA Coches Poll, the first time since 2011 that Illinois has entered the top-5 of the rankings. The Illini finished 2011 as the national runner-up, and expectations are now as high as theyve been since then.

Texas plays host to Southland-winner Stephen F. Austin and Conference USAs Rice plays Sun Belt-champion Texas State.

“Having been there before, once you get in that territory, its just about making sure that youre able to handle the challenges thrown in front of you,” Tamas said. “Weve done that on the road and at home this year, it should be a fun ride.”

We feel it is a good seed and we are not disappointed at all, Elliott said. Well put our best foot forward here and we are excited to be at home the first two rounds. We got good opponents who are in-state and we need to focus on our first opponent and then move from there.

Things will be fierce in the Sunshine State as UCF (Central Florida) is at home for ASUN-winner FGCU (Florida Gulf Coast), while the SECs Florida plays Florida State of the ACC.

“It’s really a proud moment for us to be able to host a first and second round of the NCAA tournament, UCF coach Todd Dagenais said. I think its going to be a pretty tough, pretty challenging first and second round for everyone.”

Those are difficult things, because were bound by the bracketing principles and those regionalizations of having to have the fewest number of flights, Coll said. If a team can drive, they have to drive, no matter where they fell in the bracket.

This team played great down the stretch, CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. We had six matches on the road in our last eight and we had to win five of them to do this.

The Big Ten got seven, including Penn State, which, along with Stanford, are the only teams to appear in every one of the 38 NCAA Tournaments. This is the 26th consecutive season that at least six B1G teams have gotten in. Five of the top 10 seeds are from the conference.

This is definitely an exciting time for us as a program, to be able to host, Pittsburgh coach Dan Fisher said. Weve been talking about this for a few years. Were really pleased with the decision of the committee to let us host, and were excited to start preparing.

The Southern Conference (ETSU got an at-large), Big West (Hawaii got an at-large) and Summit (Denver got an at-large) had two each.

Six programs, including FGCU, are making their first appearances: Bryant, Eastern Michigan,, South Dakota, Syracuse, and Navy.


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